Sunday 19th September 2010
By Patrice Mongelard
Sunday Roast for Older Vets as Farnborough Tame Buff in 5-3 Win
At last we can report a long-awaited win in a game against The Buff – our failure to beat them over numerous attempts had begun to feel like there was an albatross round our necks (rather than a buff). And what a handsome win it was to lift the curse. The manner of it was just as pleasing as the final score.
Pre-match nerves were such that Vic Farrow had to phone for emergency supplies of toilet paper as there had been a run on it. After the now customary frisson of uncertainty over who would turn up, late or if at all, or unexpectedly, and some late transfers - Farnborough lined up with Gary Fentiman in goal; Patrice Mongelard, Trevor Stewart, Steve Blanchard and Mehmet Bozyigit in defence; Ian Shoebridge, Sinisa Gracanin, Jerry Cogotti, and Mark Perry in midfield; Andy Faulks and Colin Brazier in attack. The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed the absence of substitutes. Technically this was not entirely true as Roger French and James Maidment swapped their Farnborough kit for the Buff blue as our opponents did not have a full flock.
This was the first game of the season for Steve and Colin, and also the first time that Andy Faulks had turned up on time. It was a first too for us on the big pitch this season which had unexplained small circles of greener grass dotted around in many places. No, not evidence of aliens in Farrow Fields – but simply evidence of the sprinkler system used to water the pitch over the summer – and not many people would know that. Pitchmeister Keith Beston appeared and had plenty of reason to be pleased with all his hard work on the pitch which was excellent. It certainly felt there was a lot of space out there and not just because the Buff had 10 players until Farnborough nemesis Barry Grainger was summoned from his perch midway through the first half. I realise now that we made the space.
It was very clear from the early exchanges that both teams had opted for a passing game with The Buff relying on their compact defence and excellent target man supported by at least one road runner. For our part I can honestly say that I have never witnessed so many Farnborough passes to feet and such confident play. Sinisa Gracanin and Ian Shoebridge anchored the midfield and linked up well with wide players, defence and attack. Jerry Cogotti was making telling forays with pace on the left whilst Mark Perry and Mehmet Bozyigit were making Roger French wish he had kept his Farnborough plumage on.
Yet, as is often the case in football the first sign of real danger came from The Buff as a long range shot dipped and swerved before coming off the top of our cross bar. Midway through the half The Buff took the lead after Steve Blanchard attempted a clearance on the edge of our box, a little off balance and the ball spun back in the path of a Buff forward who also had the good fortune of a now out of position keeper – and proceeded to roll the ball into an empty net. This was against the run of play – and the score could only be explained by our determination to walk the ball into the Buff net.
Before the half was over though we had restored balance in the universe with two very good goals. The first came from Mark Perry who swivelled and hit a left foot shot high into the corner of the net from the edge of the box after picking up a clearance from one of the many corners we won. The second came from the trusty left boot of Colin Brazier who latched on to a through ball from Sinisa Gracanin to round the keeper and slot the ball in. The Buff threatened with one or two set pieces and Barry Grainger’s cultured left foot but on the whole we deserved our half time lead.
More goals came quickly in the second half. Andy Faulks bagged a brace. First the Buff keeper fluffed a clearance and Andy had the predator’s instinct and poise to shoot into an empty net from 35 yards. Then Andy ran on to a through ball from Mehmet Bozyigit and lifted the ball over the oncoming keeper to give us a comfortable 4-1 lead. I say comfortable but it did not feel entirely that way as The Buff forced several corners and gave as good as they got, with the wind in their favour.
Then in relatively quick time 4-1 became 4-2 and 4-3. 4-2 came from a Patrice Mongelard own goal of some quality even if I say so myself. The dangerous Barry Grainger burst through the midfield to get at the end of a through ball in the box – I had a nanosecond to compute whether Gary Fentiman would get to the ball – decided he would not and opted to help it towards him as I stepped ahead of the onrushing Barry Grainger. The trouble was that Gary was no longer where I thought he was and I ended up producing a delicate side-foot into the bottom corner. 4-3 followed soon after as our fallibility at corners returned.
Through all of this we kept our composure and continued to pass and move. With 5 minutes left a sweeping move down the right, bamboozled the Buff left back Roger French and ended with Ian Shoebridge curling a left foot shot into the corner of the net where James Maidment had taken over the keeper’s gloves as the Buff threw players forward to get an equaliser. This was a goal made in Farnborough, and soon after the final whistle came, sweet as birdsong.
For such a high scoring game there was not a single bad tackle or spicy moment. Referee Mick Gearing had an even quieter game than usual. In fact the closest we came to an incident was in the first half, when Roger French and Patrice Mongelard had a come together over a 50-50 ball, won by Farnborough, in a “clash of the muppets” which could have wiped out the Older Vets managerial talent in one move.
The mood in the club was very good today. There were balloons and decorations but not for the footballers – although we deserved it. I understand that not one of the club’s nine teams lost a game this weekend and many long overdue victories were recorded. Perhaps that is why Vic Farrow felt able to open the condiments cabinet to release the Branston pickle for our cheese and ham rolls.
As I left the ground, refreshed with something from the Shepherd Neame brewery and Shirley’s sandwiches + Branston, I saw the arrival of Danny Clark's Christening party. I wondered briefly if they would be interested in a tale of the ancient footballer and an Orpington Buff – perhaps not, but it was a reminder that there are other things good for the soul on a Sunday apart from football.
Man of the match today was Steve Blanchard – but half a dozen players earned votes today, including yours truly, and not just for the quality of the own goal!
Man of the match: Steve Blanchard